Yeah, That Looks About Right: Illinois Solutions for the State Budget Crisis

Looks like Illinois is finally coming up with creative solutions for the state budget crisis, but I’m not sure they’ll be successful.

I was driving my husband home from an appointment yesterday, and we passed one of those big old billboards announcing the lottery jackpot amount.

It looked a bit like this (*Note– this photo is just a women’s fiction author’s rendition. The AMA and Mr. Kiddoc both highly recommend against taking photos while driving at highway speeds.):

No kidding. The first placeholder (for the occasions where the jackpot amount reaches triple digits) was sporting what appeared to be a negative sign.

Now… if they can just get 20 or so “winners” to cough up 44 million dollars each over the next 10 months, we’ll just about break even for 2010.

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Can We Twalk?

I love a good pun as much as the next person (okay… that’s not actually true. I love them wildly more than most folks, but that’s neither here nor there) but this whole twitter-speak practice of adding a “TW” into pretty much any word is getting on my nerves.

Don’t get me wrong… some of them are quite clever. Many of them, however, simply sound like Elmer Fudd hijacked everyone’s twitter accounts. And even worse are those terms that bear no resemblance to the original word whatsoever.

So, can we all weigh in here and separate the wheat from the chaff?

Here’s my votes:

Keepers (These are cute and/or practical and do not force me to blush or roll my eyes.):

  • Tweetup (for meet-ups with your twitter friends)
  • Twitching (for tweet-sized pitches, coined by the ladies of BookEnds)
  • Tweeps (twitter + peeps)
  • Twinfomercial (Okay… this one cracks me up. Cuz there are a good deal of self-promotional tweets out there, and some of them can get downright obnoxious.)
  • Twitterverse (akin to blogosphere)

If You Must (These I find iffy– straddling the border between punny and ridiculous. But I can deal if you’re a fan.):

  • Twibe (for twitter groups– twitter + tribe. We’re getting dangerously Elmer Fuddy-Duddy here. This goes for you, too, Twoup.)
  • Tweeple (twitter + people. For some reason, this one seems sillier than the shortened “Tweeps” above)
  • Twondering (twitter + wondering. I’m not sure why we need this word in our vocab, but at least the fact that it makes use of the “w” makes its meaning clear.)

Wait, Seriously? (These bug me. Or confuse me. Or both. Can we ban these please?):

  • Twiend (twitter + friend. Never mind that it looks more like Twi-End. By the time I’ve figured this one out, I will no longer desire to be twiendly.)
  • Twirt (twitter + flirt. Ick. Please, no. And how can you tell this doesn’t mean “Squirt” or “Dirt” anyway?)
  • Twollower (twitter + follower. Really? Is this necessary? I mean… never mind how you get tangled up in the “two” before you realize… this feels a lot closer to “wallower” than “follower. And who wants that?)
  • Twammer (twitter + spammer. This is just silly. If you must use a kitchy title for unwanted follower folk, I suggest Twespasser.
  • Pretty much anything that replaces a letter other than “T” or “W”, as it becomes either beyond silly or completely unintelligible. Or both. Yes, I’m looking at you Tweighborhood, Twint (for twitter + hint), Twumor (twitter + rumor), Twink (twitter + link), and Tweed (twitter + feed). Be honest… if I didn’t include what the heck those are supposed to mean, would you have interpreted them easily?

So… what twitter terminology do you love or hate? Let’s get this thing nailed down in the comments.

Well… That’s a Little Freaky, Frankly.

So, I had to coordinate a series of interviews today for a new doctor in my department. I offered to take her to lunch afterward, but she needed to leave for an afternoon shift. Which left me all ready to go to lunch, but completely on my own.

This doesn’t happen often. Due to the nature of my work schedule and home life, I am *never* left to my own devices but free to go out to lunch. So I decided to have sushi.

I heart sushi, but I rarely get to eat it as my husband has decided it’s a) overpriced and b) liable to give you worms. He will not listen to reason on either of these points. Never mind that I’m a doctor. He’s convinced. And he never sees any sense in giving up a good theory just because it isn’t true.

Since I was eating alone, I thought I’d bring a book in with me. Cuz, well… I like books. And cuz you never look pathetic eating alone if you have something to do.

As it happens, I was between books and ready to start something new. Next on the TBR deck? The Time-Traveler’s Wife. Yes, I know I’m a bit behind. 🙂

So I’m sitting, slurping miso soup and snarfing sushi, reading the opening of TTTW. And a thought pops into my head… I am channeling moonrat.

I finished the prologue and the first chapter between pieces of maki. Then I drained my green tea mug and made for the door.

I had only begun pulling out of the parking lot, when I was struck by a powerful urge for a Dairy Queen cone. And since I was already being decadent with the sushi-for-one, I decided to roll with that urge. I can’t remember the last time I had one.

I seriously considered tweeting moonrat to ask if she had a thing for soft serve, but I restrained myself.

A few hours later, while I waited for dinner to cook, I picked up the novel where I had left off… where Henry meets Clare for the first time (for her).

And I read this:

“Well, they have to eat each other; they can’t go to Dairy Queen and get a large vanilla cone with sprinkles, can they?” This is Clare’s favorite thing to eat in the whole wide world (as a child. As an adult Clare’s favorite food is sushi…)

Now, okay, fine… I went with a large chocolate cone, but it’s still a bit deja vu-ish, don’tcha think?

A Zoological Discovery: Animal Kingdom Celebrations!

So today seemed to be a fairly ordinary day until I left my house.

Then things got a little weird. I couldn’t explain them at first, but I think I’ve finally hit upon the reason.

Today is a day of celebration in the animal kingdom. Today the fauna are honoring… The Chicken.

And how DO you honor the chicken? Well, by PLAYING chicken, naturally.

During my commute to work this morning, I slammed on brakes, swerved violently into other lanes of traffic to avoid:

  • One bunny
  • One black squirrel
  • One regular squirrel
  • One groundhog
  • Three individual small black birds
  • One group small black birds
  • One seagull
  • One large butterfly
  • One larger butterfly that, okay, turned out to be a cellophane wrapper.

Every one of these animals ran and/or flew directly into the path of my car. Many of them then froze and stared at me as I approached.  Every single one of these animals played Chicken.  And it wasn’t just me, either, lest you think I’m some sort of unwitting Disney princess.  I also was forced to swerve on several occasions in reaction to other drivers avoiding collision with partying animals.

You may notice that, although various woodland creatures celebrate this holiday, it is far more important to birds, which seems natural, given the background of the celebrant.

So, if you’re headed onto the roads, keep an eye out for animal celebrators who might just try to play Chicken with YOU!

Another Mystery Solved!

My husband, affectionately known around these parts as “Mr. Kiddoc,” has baffled me for years.

He can make things disappear without a trace. Give him a set of keys or a remote control or a scrap of paper with a phone number on it and– in under a minute– it will be gone. He won’t even need to leave his chair.

Many times I’ve marveled at his ability to lose things. He can be holding his wallet one minute and asking for help finding it the next. And he has a bad leg… it’s not like he can speed in and out of my line of sight.

I’ve often told him the CIA should hire him to make things disappear.

Well, recently it happened again. He was sitting in the family room. I handed him the phone and a refrigerator magnet with the phone number of our local pizza joint so he could order our dinner. I then returned to the kitchen. Mr. Kiddoc never moved from the sofa. I could see the top of his head through our pass through.

And yet, by the time he hung up the phone, the magnet was missing.

We dug deep into the sofa cushions, but no dice. The magnet was gone.

A few hours later, I stumbled across it. About 15 feet away from where he was sitting, on the hearth of our fireplace.

I should add that the magnet is shaped like a slice of pizza and therefore disinclined to roll.

My BFF and I finally put it together. There is only one possible explanation.

My husband can create wormholes.

They are, evidently, quite weak, allowing only the transfer of small objects a few feet in any direction. But perhaps now that he knows, he’ll be able to hone his skills.

We can only hope he will use his powers for good. *snort*

Today, In a Nutshell… or Pages and Pages

Today has been an uberwacky sort of day. Here’s a little rundown of the highlights:

  1. Woke up. Late. (cuz I was up late coughing. It’s the end of a stinky virus)
  2. Scuzzled around like a madwoman and lead-footed it to work.
  3. Arrived to big banner announcing that the hospital is switching pager service providers, which means the stinging sensation deep in the ample belly of the gluteus maximus muscle will reach 10 out of 10 on the pain scale. Seriously… the task: every single pager used by every single person in the hospital needs to be collected and deactivated, and every single person must be issued a new pager, which must be programmed and updated in the paging system. All the while, making sure that everyone can be reached by SOME pager, since this is, you know, a hospital and sometimes sick people need stuff. As you might guess, this changeover is a recipe for disaster.
  4. Contemplated this process which made me cough until my head hurt.
  5. Entered the physician lounge, where lines were short, so I paged the doc I was about to take over for and suggested she come down to swap out her pager.
  6. Swapped out my pager and was given a shiny new one as they swiftly pulled the battery out of my old one, ripped the label off, and chucked it into a large box. I was told my long-range number had changed and would now be the hospital area code and pager prefix followed by “1123”
  7. Exclaimed, “I get the Fibonacci pager”
  8. Endured blank looks from pager swapper chicks.
  9. Marveled at my own geekiness.
  10. Was sent to another “station” to get my pager activated.
  11. Was told I was activated, received a test page, and congratulated myself on escaping the Great Pager Swap with minimal casualties.
  12. Flagged down the other doc when she arrived to switch out her pager. Bear in mind, she’d been working for over 24 hours. She gave the Pager Swapper Princesses the pediatric admit pager by mistake. (The pediatric admit pager is carried by the senior resident most of the time, but when the residents are unavailable because of lecture or rounds or whatever, we cover for pediatric admissions to the hospital.)
  13. Watched her eyes widen to improbable size when she realized her mistake, by which time the pediatric admit pager was de-batteried, stripped of all labels and chucked into the Big Box o’Pagers with no identifying marks.
  14. Assumed a cheery tone as I said, “No problem! All the pagers need to be swapped out anyway. So let’s just switch your old pager for a new peds admit pager.”
  15. Felt a steely burn as the Page Swapper Princess narrowed her eyes. “We can’t do that here. We can only accept physician pagers. All the other pagers are being swapped in a room in the basement.”
  16. Pointed out she had, in fact,  already accepted a non-physician pager. She was not swayed.
  17. Dragged the post-call doc into the basement (since pediatric hospitalists do not leave a fallen comrade on the field), on a quest for a room neither of us had ever heard of called “The Four Seasons”
  18. Exhausted practically every hallway and was preparing to check for Narnia-wardrobe type closets when we finally found the appropriate room.
  19. Explained the situation approximately 19 times and then waited while the Pager Swapper Queen and a swarm of drones attempted to sort out the pager perplexity.
  20. Finally got upstairs to our office about an hour behind schedule, where we ran into our education director with an interview candidate. He was glad to bump into us and informed us we couldn’t be paged. As in, AT ALL.
  21. Checked the system and, indeed, no pager listed.
  22. Called the operator for help. She tried to send me on another pilgrimage to the Pager Swapper Queen, but when I protested, she told me to hold on. After a few minutes of muffled murmurs, she came back on the line. “We did something,” she said. “Try it again.”
  23. Laughed until I coughed and then coughed until my head hurt.
  24. Practically fainted when Lo and behold and gloryosky, the pager worked.

In fact, it’s been going off merrily ever since.

So, um… Yay?

When Query Met Sadly: Can Agents and Aspiring Authors Really Be Friends?

This something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, in the wake of Agentfail fallout regarding agents making themselves (as people, not just as agents) accessible online.

Because in the course of “establishing an online presence,” I’ve encountered quite a few agents who are funny and fabulous. People whom I enjoy interacting with as much as any of my online contacts (or, as Mr. Kiddoc calls them, my imaginary friends).

But it gets a bit tricksy sometimes. If any of my other online contacts posted they were having a bad day, I wouldn’t hesitate to try to cheer them up. I would use tongue-in-cheek humor without reservation. But when it’s an agent-type person, I worry I’ll seem insincere. I wouldn’t need a motive, ulterior or otherwise, to do these things. But I can’t deny that I do have a motive, shading my every action with personal gain.

It’s almost a consolation prize to have received rejections from a couple of these agenty peeps. Of course, I am disappointed not to be working with them, but at least I don’t feel cloying if I tell them when they crack me up or post something particularly helpful.

And all of this musing reminded me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, which I now present for you with a few minor word substitutions:

Query Burns: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally Agent: Why not?
Query Burns: What I’m saying is – and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form – is that aspiring authors and agents can’t be friends because the representation part always gets in the way.
Sally Agent: That’s not true. I have a number of aspiring author friends and there is no representation involved.
Query Burns: No you don’t.
Sally Agent: Yes I do.
Query Burns: No you don’t.
Sally Agent: Yes I do.
Query Burns: You only think you do.
Sally Agent: You’re saying I’m representing these authors without my knowledge?
Query Burns: No, what I’m saying is they all WANT to be represented by you.
Sally Agent: They do not.
Query Burns: Do too.
Sally Agent: They do not.
Query Burns: Do too.
Sally Agent: How do you know?
Query Burns: Because no author can be friends with an agent that reps his or her genre. He always wants to be represented by her.
Sally Agent: So, you’re saying that an author can be friends with a agent who doesn’t?
Query Burns: No. You pretty much want to sign with them too.
Sally Agent: What if THEY don’t want to represent YOU?
Query Burns: Doesn’t matter because the representation thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.

But, Twittering/Blogging Agents, I like you for your minds, I swear.

Here’s to friendship anyway!